(And I am a digital girl – well, sort of.*)
A few weeks ago the Westminster Government published the Government Digital Strategy with the (slightly strange) advertising-slogan of “Digital services so good that people prefer to use them”. It sets out how the government will redesign its digital services to make them straightforward and convenient and has 14 core actions. Quite a few of these are focused internally on capability of government departments, whilst others focus on digital transactions and ‘assisted digital’. The latter (Action 9) addresses the problem of ‘digital by default’ (also covered in my earlier blog here) for the 18% of the population who have rarely or never been online. They state “Digital by default means that digital self-service is the default option for people who can use it, not the only option.” The Society of Chief Librarians are name-checked in the list of organisations who are working with the government to achieve their vision. The government will publish its plans by December 2012 on this area. Action 9 therefore is probably the main area of interest for librarians in this strategy.
The strategy frequently mentions ‘digital shift’, ‘channel shift’, incentives and efficiency savings, the latter through the lower cost of a digital transaction compared to paper or face to face, see the section on Benefits of digital by default where the cost of contact for face to face transactions averages £8.62, for phone £2.83, but for web is 15 pence.
Meanwhile, further north, Scotland has published its first year progress report on its own digital strategy (Scotland’s Digital Future). The strategy has four strands (building connectivity, digital public services, digital economy and digital participation) and libraries feature in the report in relation to digital preservation (the National Library of Scotland in Section 5), and in digital participation in section 7, including a case study from East Dunbartonshire.
And finally, but not last as it was in fact the first of the strategies, Wales. A Digital Wales was launched back in 2010/11. Delivering a Digital Wales sets out the challenges and targets for the five key objectives, which are: inclusivity, skills, economy, public services and infrastructure. Libraries mainly feature in the inclusivity and skills strands and are seen as important partners in the strategy. There is also a Delivery Plan which sets out how the tasks will be achieved, and what the goals are. Libraries feature as key partners in goals 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 16 (out of 21). There is also a Digital Inclusion Delivery Plan which sets specific targets. AND, there is also a Directory of Projects associated with Digital Wales – libraries feature in here too. The Directory document is being updated so the version online at the moment is not fully up-to-date.
Plenty there for a bit of bedtime reading!
*Those of you who were around in the 1980s and liked Madonna will recognise the steal from her song ‘Material Girl‘.
**A political and geographic minefield! Because some issues are not devolved the ‘England/ Westminster strategy does include things which apply in Wales e.g. Universal Credit. Libraries are a devolved matter.